Dossier

A publication providing succinct biographical sketches of environmental scientists, economists, "experts," and activists released by The National Center for Public Policy Research.

Environmental Scientist: Dr. Thomas Lovejoy

Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, a Yale University-trained biologist, is Science Advisor to Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt and project leader of the National Biological Survey, a comprehensive survey of the nation's biological resources being undertaken by the U.S. Department of the Interior. He has served as Assistant Secretary of External Affairs at the Smithsonian Institution and as Vice President for Science of the World Wildlife Fund, a group sometimes considered callous because of its insistence that people in developing nations abandon agriculture and hunting in favor of more "environmentally-friendly" industries like eco-tourism.

Perhaps Lovejoy's greatest claim to fame is his development of "debt-for-nature" swaps. Under "debt-for-nature" swaps, environmental groups purchase foreign debt on the secondary market at considerable discounts and then convert this debt at its face value into the local currency to purchase large tracts of land in the debtor nation for purposes of "environmental protection." The problem with such swaps is that they deprive developing nations of resources that are often essential to further economic development. Economic stagnation and local resentment of "Yankee imperialism" can result.

Although Lovejoy is considered by the media one of the foremost "biodiversity" authorities, many of his assertions lack scientific basis. For example, he has predicted that 14 to 20 percent of all currently-living species on earth will be extinct before the year 2000, but he has offered no scientific data to support this conclusion. According to one leading environmental expert, Lovejoy assumes that the actual species extinction rate is at least one thousand times greater than the observed extinction rate.

Lovejoy's World Wildlife Fund has also been mired in controversy. Despite its official opposition to resource development, the Fund has received donations from both Exxon and Chevron. Additionally, until it called for a ban on ivory imports in 1989, the Fund actively opposed listing African elephants as "endangered." Observers speculate that the World Wildlife Fund may have had an incentive to oppose the listing -- Anton Rupert, one of the Fund's international board members, is from South Africa, a hub of the ivory trade.

Selected Lovejoy Quotes

"The planet is about to break out with fever, indeed it may already have, and we [human beings] are the disease. We should be at war with ourselves and our lifestyles." - Quoted by Dixy Lee Ray in her book Trashing the Planet (1990)

"A... biological transformation of the planet unequaled perhaps since the disappearance of the dinosaur is about to occur." - Quoted by Dr. Julian Simon and Dr. Aaron Wildavsky in the Baltimore Sun, May 14, 1993

"Of the 3 to 10 million species now present on the earth, at least 500,000 to 600,000 will be extinguished during the next two decades. At least 90 percent of all species that have existed have disappeared... the extinction rate has certainly soared, though details mostly remain undocumented. In 1974, a gathering of scientists concerned with the problem hazarded a guess that the overall extinction rate among all species, whether known to science or not, could now have reached 100 species a year." - Quoted by Dixy Lee Ray in her book Environmental Overkill (1993)


Version Date: August 24, 1993



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